Death and Seduction in the Library

Pulp Fiction Book Cover

Pulp Fiction Book Cover
The State Library of New South Wales has recently acquired an outstanding selection of classic pulp fiction titles from well-regarded scholar Dr Toni Johnson-Woods. Toni’s extensive research into Australian publishing of the mid-twentieth century, one of our richest periods of publishing output, led her to become a collector of pulp titles with a particular focus on the iconic author Alan Yates (better known as Carter Brown).

The slim volumes, printed on cheap paper and with flimsy covers, can be difficult to find in good condition; especially for the better-known authors. These books, all dating from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, represent the best of pulp fiction writing styles and cover designs. Tough talking men and women with (very) long legs dominate the genre. The always outrageous plotlines follow scams, secrets, the occasional heist, the obligatory seduction, and lots of murders. Good guys and thugs battle it out to win the girl, the day, and the reader’s attention.

Through this acquisition the Library has added over 100 titles – including Carter Brown’s Mistress (1958), Tomorrow is Murder (1960), Seven Sirens (1972), and Model for Murder (1980) – to an already impressive collection of material that documents the pulp publishing industry in New South Wales and Australia. A highlight is a set of over 20 works translated from English into Finnish and French; with examples including books from Marc Brody, Carter Brown, Marshall Grover, Kerry Mitchell, and Max Strong.

Often described as “cheap entertainment” pulp fiction opens a fascinating window into the hectic world of writing and publishing. There is so much to devour and to learn about this field of popular culture. From writing, editing and reading practices, to cover art, and through to how these stories, dominated by bruisers and slang, have been translated from English into other languages.

We hope you come in and enjoy reading and researching this incredibly rich collection!